Fa la la la la

I love Christmas music. There’s just something about the phrase “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…” that makes me feel all warm and cozy inside, like a thick pair of socks on cold feet or a good, long hug from Brent after a rough day.


I can trace the introduction to most of my favorite songs to my mother’s record/CD collection. To this day, I still love hearing the close harmony in the Carpenters’ version of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” And I know all of the words to “Mele Kalikimaka” and “Christmas in Killarney,” thanks to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. These songs just make me happy.


Of course, not all Christmas songs are great. In fact, some are pretty annoying. Many people—especially ones with good taste in music—cringe when they hear the song “Christmas Shoes.” You know the one I’m talking about: the kid goes into the store to buy his dying mom shoes so she’ll look beautiful when she meets Jesus. I don’t want to sound heartless, but…shoes? Who thinks of shoes when they’re 1) wanting to look beautiful, and 2) expecting to meet Jesus. How about a cute top or an expensive mascara? I mean Jesus just wore sandals, right? I don’t think He was a shoe-person, any more than Moses was a sweater guy and Abraham had a thing for scarves.


Not being a professional musician, I can only guess but sometimes it seems like recording artists are forced into making a Christmas album–possibly at gunpoint–and they panic. They have to write new songs and reinvent old ones. So they take perfectly good Christmas songs and completely ruin them. Case in point: Michael Buble’s version of “Santa Baby.” In the more famous version sung by Eartha Kitt, she kind of flirts with Santa. She tells him all of the presents she wants even though she’s obviously been fairly naughty. It’s not my favorite but it’s a classic. When Michael sings it, he changes all of the words and it’s obnoxious. He calls Santa pally and poppy. What a cheeseball.


Another weird rendition of a flirty song is “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” sung by Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone (the guy who sings the jingle for the laundry detergent ALL). I know they got together for this duet because they both have roles in the movie Elf—she plays Jovie and he plays Leon the Snowman. When I heard their version this year, I couldn’t help but think Leon was going to slip Zooey a rufie. It’s a creepy combo.


I’ve noticed some patterns on my list of Top Ten Christmas Songs. For instance, I really like a lot of songs with questions in their titles: “Mary, Did You Know?” and “What Child is this?” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?” All Winners. I’m not sure why these are among my favorites, but here’s a thought: the story of Jesus’ birth brings up a lot of questions. Why did God wait thousands of years before He sent His Son? What did Mary expect would happen? What kind of baby was Jesus? Was He prone to fussiness? Did he sleep through the night early? The genius of the story is that it reflects our lives—starry night, childbirth, the government demanding unrealistic things from its citizens—but it also has an element of the supernatural. The band of angels and exotic wise men catch our attention. It’s beautiful and surprising and amazing. All it’s missing is a little  pa-rum-pum-pum-pum. Oh yeah, thank you, little drummer boy!

Loves-Giving Day

The Thanksgiving holiday is about a lot of things—eating too much, Pilgrims, cornucopias, hours and hours of football on TV—but the best part is the (sometimes-awkward) obligation we place on each other to list the things we’re thankful for. (For instance, I’m thankful many literary scholars now say it’s not so bad to end a sentence with a preposition.) Of course, saying “thank you” is great. It makes us a more kind and introspective society. (While we’re on the subject, saying “please” would make us a more magical society seeing as how please is always the answer to the question: “what’s the magic word?“) The only bad thing about these “thankful” lists is the tendency to use them for boasting (i.e.- “I’m thankful for the BEST husband in the world who just gave me a brand new Lexus!”). I’m not saying that’s what everyone does with his or her “30 Days of Thanksgiving” lists but it can be misused, just like prayer requests can be misused for gossip and leggings can be misused as pants.


So now that we’re officially into December and out of Thanksgiving, I propose a new movement. It doesn’t require lists, in fact that would ruin it completely. I recommend Loves-Giving Day. I got the idea when I sat down with my husband’s grandfather this past weekend. [Random Note: My genetically perfect husband has all four of his grandparents still alive and kicking. While I, on the other hand, have none. This leads me to think he will outlive me, so I’ve given him very specific requirements for his second wife: their first date must be at my grave; she can’t be skinnier, funnier, or prettier than me but she can be taller, nicer, and a better cook; she needs to be good with the kids—no wicked stepmothers allowed.]


The health of my grandmother-in-law has been declining in recent years and her husband of almost seventy years has made it his sole responsibility to get her what she needs. He keeps a small laminated index card in his shirt pocket listing all of her medicines, her full name, and birthdate. On Saturday, he had a little pillbox in his coat pocket with all of those meds ready for her take right after lunch. When he talks about having to leave her behind while he was off defending America during WW2, it makes your heart melt. He is quick to say how much he loves her and how much God has blessed them even with the caveat of many deaths in their immediate family and sicknesses for the both of them. He tells me he’s thankful with his words but his actions speak love.


Members of our church family have been hit by some major blows in the past few weeks. Parents losing children far too soon is something I just can’t understand. I’ve seen tears and faces etched with grief. A baby with special needs was adopted (adoption=unconditional love and acceptance) but passed away after living with his new family for just a few months. I imagine those months were pure and holy moments of love. A teen survived surgery for a heart condition only to pass away a week later, but those days of recuperating must’ve been full of words not left unspoken. The surgery made them understand how precious life is.


Whether we get seventy years to tell those who are dear to us that we love them or just a few months, let’s not waste it. Let’s look into the eyes of our most beloved fellow humans, and say what’s in our hearts. While we’re at it, let’s show love to strangers, too. Let’s start a Loves-Giving Revolution! (And if you can come up with a better name, share that, too.)